Whenever someone links to my blog about something or other, I usually get notified (because that’s how WordPress works, really). So… it was a pleasure to read Keri Nox’s thoughts on designing and instigating a time-management sigil, especially once I realized that she’d referenced one of my posts about geometry (related to the completion of my book of practical geometry). It’s nice to be credited once in a while.
She mentioned that she was already working on Version 2.0 (because file and update editions is totally a thing that we do in magic now), and that got me thinking about a project that I wanted to do for a while, which is to collate and calligraph some of the modern sigil work done around seals and magical emblems like this one. I had a blank book that I’d already been given, so I opened it up, did the page-layout magic from the Secret Law of Page Harmony, and got to work celebrating Keri’s achievement. And I screwed it up right away. So I had to do her version 1.0, and my own version 2.0, on the same page, to preserve the current of transmission.
A lot of the work of nesting triangles can be managed by eyeballing the concentric circles (this is especially true at tiny scales, such as the ones at which Keri is working on this tiny book project of theirs), and then performing the procedure for each triangle nested inside each circle. This can be used to change the thickness of the triangle, to create guidelines for the lettering, to figuring out the location of the crosses inside the triangle… You just have to remember that each concentric circle, with its own radius and diameter and circumference, has to be calculated/managed separately. And don’t cross the streams! Be careful (as I wasn’t), that you connect each triangle’s angles inside the circle which its other two points are touching… don’t go to the next triangle, nor stop too early (“Three shall be the number of thy counting, and the number of thy counting shall be three […] Five is right out.”).
Inking is always tricky. You need pencil lines to mark where the ink should go, but most ink is not erasable. Once you’ve put down those red lines, the pencil markings underneath are just not going to come out. There’s a necessary balance, really, between deciding what you’re actually going to draw out, and what you’re going to free-hand with the pen. I tend to use Staedtler Triplus Fineliner pens (0.3 mm) for a lot of my geometry work, but I used a Wilson & Newton ProMarker for the big red-line work on this page. I already regret it, though, because
- It bled through onto the next page; and
- It is really not erasable: any pencil line underneath is going to stick there.
Ah well. This is how we learn wisdom, right? By learning from our errors and moving on. So what if I ruined three pages in an otherwise pristine grimoire book? I learned something from the working, which Keri was kind enough to point out in her post:
For all my desire to do it better, I understand now why this was the version I was shown and the version I made. As I cut out the completed seal to glue to a page in the mini-book, I realize the first lesson of time management: Patience is a virtue, not a sign of laziness.
Of course, in a big-book format, you can’t just put in the seals and leave it at that. You have to identify the source, and the screw-up, and otherwise fill the page around the seal so that people know where it came from and what it’s supposed to do.
Because that’s a thing that we do, of course, us geometers and magicians — we get things almost right, and pass on our mistakes to the next generation. Still, a remarkable amount of information gets conserved from generation to generation. We’re trying to create a lineage, a genealogy of our thought processes.
For me, the genealogy of this particular thought process is quite useful. We’ve known for a long time that there’s a whole class of magic that has largely not been translated from Latin sources into English — the Ars notae or the “Notary Arts”. These were a series of glyphs, sigils, and emblems that were used for studying subjects. I bet that they’re related to Palace of Memory techniques, such as the practice of putting elaborate pictures into Alchemy books, so that the whole book’s teachings can be summarized in a single image.
And what Keri has done, appears to have been the creation of a modern Ars Notae image— one related to organization and time-management. By putting this image into your calendar or datebook in some fashion, you’ll be reminded and directed and energized to use your time well. I can’t guarantee that it will work, of course — but there’s something quite powerful about it, nonetheless. It’s a reminder that Doing! All! The! Things! is possible, but only if you respect that all things belong in their own due season and hour.
In any case, I thank Keri for helping me launch a new project, and giving me quite a lot to think about this afternoon — whether it’s possible to construct an Ars notae without any of the original source materials, but simply petitioning spirits (more properly, “intelligences”) of the study of architecture, anatomy, mechanics, optics, and so on, to provide us with the renewed emblems of the notary for this present time — the tools for reawakening the swift study of ancient topics. It strikes me as a worthy goal.